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Does CBD Oil Work as Treatment for Crohn’s Disease?

CBD Oil for Crohn’s

CBD supplements are becoming increasingly popular as more and more people look towards natural medicine to treat chronic conditions. There has been a considerable number of studies showing that taking a daily dose of CBD can be beneficial for both the immune system and overall health.

The natural anti-inflammatory properties of CBD have raised questions as to whether it could be used to treat conditions such as Crohn’s disease. The idea of using CBD oil for Crohn’s disease is still relatively new, and one that is still being researched.

CBD for Crohn’s disease could prove to be a useful treatment for those who struggle to control the condition using the current medical treatments that are available.

Let’s delve a bit deeper into exactly what Crohn’s disease is and whether CBD could be an effective form of treatment.

What Is Crohn’s Disease?

Crohn’s disease is a lifelong condition caused by chronic inflammation within the bowels and digestive tract. It is one of the two primary forms of inflammatory bowel disease, with the other being ulcerative colitis.

The condition can affect people of many different age groups, although symptoms typically start during childhood or early adulthood. Symptoms occur during flare-ups, with most patients experiencing periods of remission and relapse continuously throughout their life.

Crohn’s disease can affect various areas of the digestive tract in different people, meaning that no two people will experience the same symptoms. Inflammation can occur in patches anywhere from the mouth down to the bowels, so no two treatment plans for the condition are the same.

One of the most important differences between Crohn’s disease and another painful condition known as ulcerative colitis is that Crohn’s inflammation and ulcerations can occur anywhere in the body from the mouth to the anus. With Crohn’s, it is also common for patches within the body’s digestive tract to become inflamed while other areas remain unaffected.

Patches of inflammation can vary in size, sometimes being only a few centimeters, but they can also expand to cover larger areas of the gut. Crohn’s can penetrate the bowel wall, resulting in abscesses and fistulas.

Inflammation and ulceration can cause several symptoms that affect patients to different degrees. Let’s explore the most common symptoms in a little more detail.

Crohn’s Disease Symptoms

Every person with Crohn’s disease will experience different symptoms based upon the severity of inflammation and the areas of the digestive system that are affected. Symptoms can also change over time, with some people having consistent symptoms throughout life, while others may notice sudden changes.

The most common symptoms during a Crohn’s disease flare-up include the following:

Frequent, Recurring Diarrhea

One of the most common and frequently reported symptoms of Crohn’s disease is diarrhea, which can come on suddenly without warning. There is often little reason for the sudden occurrence of diarrhea, with the only warning being abdominal pain. Diarrhea during a flare-up can often include mucus, pus, or blood.

Diarrhea can occur as an isolated event or can persist for many days at a time. Diarrhea is usually accompanied by other systems, including dehydration and severe pain.

Unexplained Weight Loss

Inflammation within the gut can result in food not being properly abused by the digestive system. The body is unable to take the full amount of nutrients from food, causing weight loss even when a person with Crohn’s is eating what appears to be a healthy and balanced diet.

It is common to experience a loss of appetite during a flare-up, which can also contribute to weight loss. Pain is common during a flare-up and often prevents people from being able to eat a normal diet.

Fever

During a flare-up, it is common to feel generally unwell, including suffering from a raised temperature. Fever occurs as a result of the body’s immune system going into overdrive and fighting against itself.

Abdominal Pain

Stomach pains and cramps are one of the most common symptoms of Crohn’s disease. Pain often occurs in the lower-right part of the stomach. Although it can occur anywhere within the body, from the mouth all the way to the anus.

Fatigue

Fatigue can occur for several reasons during a flare-up and contributes to the general feeling of being unwell. One of the main reasons for tiredness and fatigue is because the body is not able to absorb the nutrients that it requires to sustain healthy energy levels.

The abdominal pain that is very common during a relapse can make it difficult to sleep, worsening feelings of tiredness and fatigue.

Loss of Appetite

A combination of pain and diarrhea can often result in a loss of appetite. It is widespread for people to lose interest in food during a flare-up, made worse by the fact that food seems to do little more than increase symptoms.

Crohn’s Disease Causes

There has been a pretty substantial quantity of research into the causes of Crohn’s disease, but it remains unclear exactly what causes the disease. Current studies point towards a number of factors that increase a person’s chances of developing the disease, but no obvious cause.

Factors that are thought to increase an individual’s risk of developing Crohn’s disease include a virus, bacteria, diet, smoking, stress, and certain medications.

Immune System

Crohn’s disease is the result of the body’s immune system attacking cells within the digestive tract. One theory is that certain viruses and bacteria can trigger Crohn’s disease as they cause the immune system to become confused.

When viruses and bacteria occur within the body, the immune system responds by attacking the invading microorganisms. In a person with Crohn’s, the immune system becomes confused, and rather than attacking an invading threat to the body; it starts to attack the digestive tract. It is not able to correct this mistake, and it continues to attack the digestive system even when all other viruses and bacteria have been removed from the body. 

In response to being attacked, the digestive tract triggers defense mechanisms, causing inflammation. Inflammation within the digestive tract causes many or all of the symptoms listed above.

Heredity

Some studies have found that people who have a family member with Crohn’s disease are more likely to develop it themselves. This does not mean that you cannot establish the condition without a family history, nor does it mean that you will develop Crohn’s because someone in your family has it.

Research has shown that there are particular cultural groups and areas of the world where the disease is more prevalent. It remains unclear, though, precisely whether this is due to genetics, diet, or simply random chance.

Genetics is just thought to be one of the many contributing factors that can make a person more susceptible to Crohn’s disease.

Crohn’s Disease Diagnosis

The first signs that a person could have Crohn’s disease include fever, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and anal bleeding.

It is common for people to assume that their symptoms are temporary and merely caused by an illness to food poisoning. It is normally only when symptoms persist for an extended period that people consult their doctor and become aware that there may be something more serious going on.

How Is Crohn’s Disease Diagnosed?

As many of these symptoms are common in other conditions, the first step will generally be a blood test and general investigations to try and rule out other potential illnesses.

Your doctor is also likely to ask for a stool sample. Both blood and stool samples will be tested to see if there are any signs of inflammation. If your doctors suspect that you might have Crohn’s disease based on symptoms and preliminary tests, you are likely to be referred to a specialist.

A gastroenterologist will perform further tests and confirm whether or not you have Crohn’s disease. Tests include a colonoscopy, biopsy, and MRI scan. In some cases, not all tests will be performed as the specialist may be able to make an accurate diagnosis based on only a few results.

A colonoscopy is the most common test, and normally the first to be performed. The procedure involves a flexible tube with a camera being placed in your anus. It is then used to move through your bowels. During the procedure, the doctor is looking to see whether there is inflammation and how severe it is.

During a colonoscopy, the doctor may take a tiny piece of tissue, known as a biopsy, which will be sent away for further testing.

A doctor may also decide to carry out an MRI scan or other form of imaging test in order to get an even better idea of what is going on within the digestive tract.

Once all of the tests and investigations have been completed, a doctor will be able to conform to whether or not a person has Crohn’s disease. Following diagnosis, the doctor will then work closely with the patient to put together a treatment and care plan.

Crohn’s Disease Treatment

There is, as of yet, no cure for Crohn’s disease, with treatment being focused on managing symptoms. Treatment will also aim to reduce the risk of permanent damage being caused by the digestive tract.

Crohn’s disease pediatric treatment has become a growing area of interest in recent years. As a result of increased interest, many pediatric gastroenterologists are adopting early biologic therapy with the hope of treating those who present early signs of the disease.

A common point of confusion for patients often occurs due to the many different medical terms that are used to refer to Crohn’s disease. The term ileitis treatment, for example, is commonly used when discussing a number of different Crohn’s disease treatments.

Steroid Treatment

The current most common treatment option is the use of steroids to help control and reduce the risk of flare-ups occurring. A doctor will also help you to create a personalized diet plan that is designed to help prevent symptoms. In the most severe cases, when medicines and other treatments have failed, a doctor may suggest surgery as the only remaining option.

Steroid treatments are used to help relieve symptoms and work by reducing inflammation within the digestive system. It can take a few weeks for the effects of steroids to be felt and, as such, is generally used as a long-term treatment method. As with most treatments, there are potential side effects, including weight gain, insomnia, and an increased risk of infection.

Immunosuppressants

When steroid treatment is deemed not to be sufficient to control symptoms, a doctor might suggest trying immunosuppressants. The most common types of immunosuppressants are azathioprine, mercaptopurine, and methotrexate. These drugs work by reducing activity within the immune system, which prevents it from attacking the digestive tract.

The main risk when taking immunosuppressants is an increased risk of infection as the immune system is not able to work to its full potential.

Biological Medications

Biological medicines are sometimes used when a patient is unresponsive to other medicines. Biological medicine is typically given in the form of an injection or through a drip every 2 to 8 weeks.

Biological medicines are used as a long-term treatment and are designed to stop symptoms from reoccurring. Common side effects include an increased risk of infection, joint pain, and fever.

Surgery

When all other treatment options appear not to be working or are not sufficiently controlling symptoms, a doctor may suggest surgery as a last resort. The most common surgery is resection. Resection is a type of keyhole surgery to remove the inflamed area of the bowel and before stitching the two pieces of the bowel back together.

Resection surgery allows a doctor to remove an area of the digestive tract that is proving to be particularly problematic, causing frequent flare-ups. Since all other parts of the digestive tract remain after the surgery, patients will typically need to continue with their previous treatments.

Resection surgery does not cure Crohn’s disease, and it is still possible for a patient to experience symptoms throughout the rest of their digestive tract.

In more severe cases, when inflammation has spread to an extended area of the bowel, an ileostomy may be recommended. This procedure involves removing the affected areas of the bowel and creating a division where waste is excreted into a bag attached to the stomach.

CBD Oil for Crohn’s

CBD is known for being a natural anti-inflammatory, which has caused many people within the medical community to question whether it can be used to treat Crohn’s disease. One of the main benefits of using CBD for Crohn’s disease is that there are very few side effects associated with using CBD regularly, unlike many other treatment options.

Many of the treatments that are currently available to those with Crohn’s disease come with a long list of potential side effects. There is currently a myriad of studies looking into whether CBD could provide similar benefits without the adverse effects.

Studies on CBD Oil for Crohn’s

Using cannabis for Crohn’s disease is an area of great interest and one that is currently being researched. The effects of cannabis oil on Crohn’s disease are still not fully understood. However, CBD has proven in many studies to be an effective way of reducing inflammation.

Several studies carried out in 2018 used the same methods giving half of their sample CBD daily and the other half a placebo. Each study found the same thing: That CBD was ineffective in reducing the rate at which relapses occurred. The sample sizes used in all of these studies, however, were extremely small. And the validity of them has therefore been called into question.

Other studies have found that using CBD oil for Crohn’s disease might not have long term effects, but can still be useful in providing temporary relief. One of the main symptoms that people experience with Crohn’s disease is abdominal pain, and as CBD can be used to manage and reduce pain, it could be effective at reducing symptoms.

One of the main areas of interest when looking at CBD and Crohn’s disease is its impact on the immune system. CBD is known to help boost a person’s immune system, promoting general wellness. Crohn’s is, however, caused by an overactive immune system.

There is a risk that taking CBD could further enhance the immune system, causing it to attack the digestive system at a faster rate. The anti-inflammatory effects of CBD could potentially counteract the damage being done, but this is not yet understood and is very much just a theory at present.

Final Thoughts on CBD oil for Crohn’s

There is still a great deal of valuable research that needs to be carried out into whether CBD for Crohn’s disease is actually an effective treatment method. While CBD has proven to be effective at reducing inflammation, the long-term effects are still not fully understood.

Using cannabis for Crohn’s is not considered to be a bad idea as there are so few potential side effects. The question is whether CBD actually does any good or simply just maintains the status quo.

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